Campbell’s is the most recognizable name in America for soup. With its iconic red and white label, this familiar brand dates back to 1869, when a fruit merchant and an icebox manufacturer opened their first plant in Camden, New Jersey.
Many soup fans don’t realize that this company has its own philanthropic foundation, and it’s deeply involved in the local nonprofit scene in the Tri-State Area.
Established in 1953, the Campbell Soup Foundation announced its newest batch of grant recipients for 2019 in May. The corporate funder awarded grants to 31 recipients totaling $595,000 for its three areas of focus: healthy food access, healthy living, and local neighborhoods. Camden, New Jersey, where the company has its headquarters, is always a prime place for grantmaking each year.
In Camden, the list of new grantees includes the Trust for Public Land, Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society, UrbanPromise, Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey, and After-School-All-Stars. The foundation also awarded local grants to the Camden Health and Athletic Association, Camden Lutheran Housing, Center for Environmental Transformation, and Respond, Inc.
While Camden is the birthplace of the brand’s flagship soup and home to its world headquarters, it’s not the only city on Campbell’s radar.
Branching further out into the Tri-State Area, the Campbell Soup Foundation supported nonprofits in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and also in the Connecticut cities of Norwalk and Bloomfield. Yet further out, the foundation awarded more limited grants in company-relevant regions of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Oregon, North Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
Over the years, the funder has been particularly interested in improving public spaces in town, engaging local youth and seniors, and providing after-school fitness activities for kids. Other funded causes include farmers’ markets, food waste solutions, cooking classes, bike lanes, trails, and repurposing vacant lots for safe recreational use. Like many corporate funders, Campbell has a volunteer engagement program in addition to the financial support it provides.
The Campbell Soup Foundation maintains an accessible website for grantseekers, but just this year it moved to an invitation-only grant process. One of the funder’s two current primary programs targets healthy school communities through a pilot program involving a small group of nonprofits. The other current effort is a community grants program that relies upon Campbell employee nominations to fund local nonprofits. Both of these programs are significant shifts from what the foundation has done in the past, but it is still giving preference to Camden-based organizations. An executive committee and board of trustees govern the foundation, which now relies significantly on input and recommendations from company employees.